Louis XIV pietra dura panel by the Gobelins workshops, later set into a giltwood base as a tabletop, €350,000 (£304,350) at Tajan.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The project began in 1662 with the consolidation of a number of tapestry workshops, but by 1688 had expanded its scope to include practitioners of arts not yet fully mastered in France.

Among them were craftsmen headhunted from the ducal workshops in Florence with expertise in hardstone carving.

The projects they undertook included a magnificent table set with four rectangular pietra dura plaques and the crowned royal cypher, the design for which is in the Bibliothèque Nationale.


A detail of the Louis XIV pietra dura panel by the Gobelins workshops that sold at Tajan.

Like many hardstone items from the Louis XIV period, the table itself had seemingly left its royal residence before the Revolution and had been dismantled to allow the panels to be reused in more fashionable ways.

The 11in x 12½in (26 x 32cm) pietra dura panel offered as part of the Tajan (26/21/14% buyer’s premium) sale of Furniture & Works of Art in Paris on December 19 is thought to be part of the commission. Matching one of four panels pictured in the surviving drawing, it is beautifully worked with jasper, agate, chalcedony, and onyx with a prowling fox in a landscape. Later mounted in white marble and given a giltwood base in the Regence style, it came for sale with a guide of €50,000-80,000 but took €350,000 (£304,350).

Charged only with providing furnishings for royal residences, the Gobelins manufactory was active for around 40 years until 1715.